Recently, I read an article in a competing magazine regarding certification and, although the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) was not specifically named, many of the statements could be construed to reference the MCAA National Mason Contractor Certification plan. Therefore, I would like to clarify any misconceptions that anyone may have relating to the plan proposed by MCAA.
First and foremost, membership in MCAA is not a requirement to becoming certified. Any mason contractor who earns the required number of points and passes the exam will be certified. True, a very small portion of the educational seminars required to achieve certification are conducted through MCAA but everyone member and non-member alike not only can sign up and participate, but are strongly encouraged to do so.
Second, there is no collusion, price fixing or discrimination against small- or medium-sized contractors, nor am I even sure how this could even be considered to be a part of any certification program. The goal of MCAA is to promote quality workmanship through education. We all know that quality comes with a price regardless of whether it's an automobile, appliance or any other item purchased. If an owner desires to award a job strictly on price and gets a bad result, the industry as a whole takes a hit, not just the contractor that provided the poor work.
The goal of national certification is to give owners a tool to help them find contractors who are committed to quality work. If an owner chooses to select a contractor that is not certified and has a poor result, you hope the owner will have learned a lesson on contractor selection, rather than a lesson about the selection of masonry as a building material.
No one wants to see the small contractor be at a disadvantage because of a certification program; in fact, we feel it could provide just the opposite. If a smaller contractor can say that they are a certified contractor, we feel this will open doors that may otherwise have been closed. Also, getting certified will not require an exorbitant amount of money and, as the certification program develops, the MCAA would expect to see classes offered for little to no cost. The MCAA also is considering some type of assistance for contractors who would have a hard time affording some of the mandatory courses.
Ultimately, as an industry we must do something to address poor workmanship or, as an industry, we will lose market share. In the past, the MCAA has helped negotiate continued use of masonry by federal agencies despite several bad experiences they have had with poor workmanship. Our discussions with these agencies regarding a certification program have been well received; we need to act in order to police ourselves and make sure our market share is not driven away due to poor workmanship.
The MCAA welcomes comments and input on the certification program, and I would encourage anyone with concerns and questions to contact the MCAA office at (800) 536-2225. We cannot afford to let rumors, unfounded stories or misconceptions of certification steal our industry headlines. Our market share and future as an industry are too important to let these misconceptions pit one contractor against another on the issue of certification. We need to act as an industry united, willing to back up the products we install.
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